The New York City Council has approved a measure to ensure that homeless shelters, public schools and jails provide women free tampons and sanitary napkins. New York is the first city in the US which has passed such a bill. The city will provide 2 million tampons and 3.5 million pads a year, costing $2.5 million annually.
“You shouldn’t have to decide between a pad and having lunch,” said Council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland who spearheaded the legislation.
Ferreras-Copeland wants the legislation to start an open conversation about the taboos associated with periods. “It’s about dignity and women understanding that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this process. Once we take the taboo away from this product, then we are really empowering women,” she said in the council’s press release.
Another council member added that feminine hygeine products are a necessity, not a luxury. Many states in the US are campaigning for the removal of sales tax on feminine hygeine products. New York is the sixth state to have removed the tax.
“I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items,” President Obama said. “I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”
According to a survey conducted by AC Nielson and Plan India, 70 per cent of women in India cannot afford sanitary napkins. Only 12 per cent of India’s women use sanitary napkins due to the taboos surrounding menstruation and the high cost of pads. Many non-profits and social enterprises are trying to address this problem, but solving the problem is not yet on the government’s agenda in a big way. More policies like the one implemented in New York should be introduced in cities around the world in order to improve women’s health.